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Greener Surfboard 

Makej Projects 

Greener Surfboard 

Written By: Keith Hammond 



Angle grinder (1) 

or Dremel rotary tool with sanding disc 

Calipers (1) 

Coping saw (1) 

or jigsaw 

Drill (1) 

Drop light (1) 

Framer's sguare (1) 

Hole saw (1) 

Marker (1) 

Pencil (1) 

Round rasp (1) 

or round file 

Spring clamps (2-3) 

or ratchet clamps, for positioning fins 

T-square (1) 

Utility knifed) 

Greenlight Deluxe Eco-Friendly Starter 
Kit (1) 

$395; Includes EPS foam blank, epoxy 
resin, bamboo stringer, bamboo cloth, 
bamboo panel for fins, plus hand saw. 
Surform rasp, small plane, resin 
spreader, laminating roller, foam sanding 
pad, tapes, gloves, and sandpapers. 
Templates (1) 

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Distilled water (1) 

for mixing spackle 

Acrylic paint (1) 

or similar, optional, for pinlines 


to make sanding blocks 

Lumber (1) 

to build a shaping rack and glassing 


5-gallon bucket (2) 

filled with sand, for glassing racks' 

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Greener Surfboard 

Wood screws (1) 

to build a shaping rack and glassing 


Traditional surfboards are fragile, and they're made of toxic goo that ends up as landfill. A 
DIY kit from Greenlight Surfboard Supply is the ticket. For $395 it's got all the materials and 
tools you need to make a tougher, greener epoxy board using expanded polystyrene (EPS) 
foam that's recyclable. Greenlight's new lamination technique, using stretchy bamboo fabric 
instead of fiberglass cloth, is easier and safer. And when this board finally fails, you can 
recycle or compost most of it. Nice. You can shape it in a weekend, but plan on a week or 
so to glass it. 

Step 1 — Get your kit and download a template. 

• I made a twin-fin "fish" with 
Greenlight's 6'6" deluxe kit. 
They've got kits ranging from 6'0" 
shortboards to 9'8" longboards. 
Whatever style you make, it's a big 
help to keep a similar board on 
hand for reference. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 2 

"* ^"^ s"~" 


liil »% 

i c \ 


• Download a surfboard outline template from Greenlight, or make your own by tracing a 
favorite board. 

• Print out the Greenlight template and tape it together on the numbered marks, then cut out 
the completed curve. You can use it as is, or transfer it to heavier kraft paper or 

Step 3 — Glue and cut the foam blank. 

• Glue the blank halves to the stringer, as flush as possible. 

• Trace your template on the bottom and saw it out. If you're making a swallowtail or other 
delicate tail shape, don't cut that out yet (it's fragile). 

• Now clean up the rails, squaring them with 36-grit sandpaper on your 12" sanding block. 

• CAUTION: Spare your lungs and wear a respirator or particle mask when 
sanding EPS foam or epoxy. 


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Greener Surfboard 

Step 4 — Level the deck and bottom, 


Plane down the stringer where it rises above the foam, then use your 24" sanding block to 
level the foam and stringer on the bottom and deck. 

Step 5 — Shape the foil and bottom contour. 

For a thinner board, keep sanding with your 24" block. The pros use a power planer, but 
you're likely to lose control and mow too much foam. I recommend going slow, using the 
sanding blocks. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 6 

• For steeper waves, you can put 
more "rocker" curve in the bottom. 
For easier turns, I put some "vee" 
in the bottom, at the tail. This helps 
the board to roll from rail to rail 
when you're turning. 

Step 7 — Shape the rails. 

• Following Greenlight's diagrams, draw rail bands with a marker. Use the rasp to bevel the 
foam between bands: bottom bevel, deck bevel, then a second deck bevel that bisects the 

• You'll leave the rails' bottom edges sharp in the tail (more bite for turning), but round them 
off farther forward (more forgiving). 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 8 

• Then use the 100-grit sanding 
screen to round the bevels into 
curves. It works well! Don't round 
off your sharp edges in the tail, 

Step 9 — Blend the deck into the rails, nose, and tail. 

• With 60-grit on your 12" block, 
blend the deck into the rails and 
tail. If you're making a swallowtail, 
now's the time to cut it out. 

• To thin the nose, plane down the 
stringer, sand the foam down 
evenly, then blend. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 10 — Sand and spackle. 

,1 *0r * 

• Sand the board with 80-grit on your foam sanding pad and remove any dust. Everything 
look even and symmetrical? You're done shaping. 

• To seal the EPS foam, mix lightweight spackle (DAP Fast 'n Final or Custom Patch-N- 
Paint) with water to the consistency of thin mayonnaise, then spackle the board, scrape 
away excess, and let it dry. This type of spackle uses silica microcells as filler; pro 
shapers say it lets the epoxy resin penetrate and bond with the foam, but prevents the 
foam from soaking up too much. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 11 — Add artwork and fin boxes (optional) 

• Stick down artwork with resin, working out any bubbles. This kit comes with super-thin 
paper for printing graphics. You can also paint your board using water-based acrylic or 
latex paints. 

• Most fin boxes are installed before laminating; follow manufacturer's instructions. Fin 
placement depends on board style, so copy a board or consult Greenlight or . 

Step 12 — Laminate the bottom. 

• Pencil a lap outline on the deck 2 1 /2 M from the edge, using a jig of scrap foam. 

• Lay down double-sided tape all around the deck, just inside this lap line. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 13 

• Stretch bamboo cloth tight across 
the bottom, up over the rails, and 
down onto the deck tape. Much 
easier than fiberglass! Pull it tight 
and smooth, with no wrinkles on 
the rails. Minimize overlaps in the 
tail; you'll have to sand them out 
later. At the tail and nose, where 
it's tightest, tape excess fabric to 
the deck so it can't pull away. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 14 


• Put on 2 pairs of latex gloves, and 
mix up 9oz of epoxy resin. The 
formula is 2 parts resin, 1 part 
hardener, and 1ml of Additive F per 
ounce of hardener. Measure 
carefully: too little hardener and the 
resin won't set; too much and it'll 
get hot and set in the bucket, 
"exotherming" in a chain reaction. 
Stir well for 1 minute. 

• CAUTION: Wear 
disposable gloves and eye 
protection when working with 
epoxy resin; it can irritate skin 
and eyes, and can cause skin 
sensitivity with repeat exposure. 
Additive F is mostly xylene; keep 
it off your skin and don't breathe 

• Using a paintbrush, saturate the 
fabric on the rails, working out any 
bubbles, and pull off the excess 
resin into your bucket. 

• Flip the board, and toss the first 
pair of gooey gloves. Saturate the 
entire bottom using the plastic 
spreader, working small areas from 
stringer to rails. Leave no dry 
spots. Mix more resin as needed. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 15 

• Run the laminating roller over the 
entire bottom and rails with 
moderate pressure; this 
strengthens the bond between the 
epoxy and foam. 

• Let the epoxy cure overnight. 

Step 16 

• When the epoxy's cured, use a 
small block and 60-grit to sand 
down any wrinkles or overlaps on 
your rails. 

• Score along the lap line with a 
utility knife, then peel the tape up 
and snap off the excess fabric. 
Sand the lap flush to the deck 
foam, and remove all dust. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 17 — Laminate the deck patch. 

• Reinforce 2/3 of the deck with a lamination: put double-sided tape outside the lap line, 
stretch bamboo fabric onto it, and laminate with 9oz resin. This strengthens the deck 
where you'll jump and stand on it. You can see the finished deck patch here (in the red 

• Let the epoxy cure, then sand the laps flush to the foam, and remove any dust. 

Step 18 — Shape and laminate fins (optional). 

t Download a template from Greenlight or make your own template by tracing fins that you 

t Cut fins from the bamboo panel with a coping saw. Foil them using a grinder, Dremel, or 

60-grit block. Laminate in bamboo fabric, and sand with 80-grit. Be sure and stretch the 

fabric tight; mine was too loose and drank up too much resin. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 19 — Laminate the full deck. 

Draw a lap line on the bottom, put down double-sided tape inside this line, and laminate the 
entire deck and rails, as you did the bottom. Start with 9oz of resin; you'll probably use 

• Score carefully — don't cut your 
bottom lamination. Sand laps flush. 
Congratulations — your board is 
"glassed" in bombproof epoxy, with 
double-strength rails and deck 
patch. Lightly sand with 60-grit on 
your foam pad, and remove dust. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 21 — Paint pinlines (optional). 

■ It's traditional to hide lap lines under painted "pinlines" about 3/16" wide. Use masking tape 
and acrylic paint, and pull up the tape while it's wet. I did the rail laps on the bottom and 
deck, plus the deck patch lap. 

Step 22 — Glass on the fins. 

• Use clamps to hold the fins at your chosen toe-in and cant angle, as you glue them on with 
a little epoxy thickened with bamboo dust. Let it cure. 

• Strengthen the fin bases with "fillets" of resin: make a masking-tape dam around one side 
of each base, then tip the board on its side and pour a little resin along the bases, building 
them up about W. Let cure, then repeat on the other side. 

• When the epoxy is cured, sand your fillets nice and round using a pencil wrapped in 80- 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 23 — Hot-coat the board. 

• "Hot coat" is shaper-speak for the 
second coat of polyester resin, 
formulated to cure quicker, 
generating heat. Your epoxy hot 
coat won't get hot, but serves the 
same purpose: to smooth the board 
and fill in the lamination texture. 

• Lightly sand with 120-grit and 
remove dust. Mix 12oz of resin 
with double Additive F (2ml per 
ounce of hardener). Paint the deck 
and rails, forcing resin into the 
fabric texture. Go over it again 
lightly to spread it evenly, letting 
the brush do the work. Scrape 
drips off the bottom, and let it cure. 

Step 24 

♦ Flip the board, sand down drips, 
and remove dust. Run masking 
tape around the rail just below the 
centerline, to save the deck from 
drips. Around the tail, add a resin 
dam of masking tape, sticking up; 
this will make a nice sharp edge. 

• Now paint the bottom and fins with 
12oz of resin. Let it set 2 hours, 
then pull off the drip tape and let it 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 25 — Sand the hot coat. 

• Sand the board well with 80-grit, 
then 120, on up to 220. A power 
sander can be handy, but go easy; 
don't oversand into the fabric. I 
recommend hand sanding. 

• Use the foam sanding pad on the 
rounded rails, and a hard block on 
the sharp rails. Hand-sand the fins. 

Step 26 — Install the leash plug. 

• Cut a 1 1 /4" hole 3" deep in the deck, on the stringer a few inches from the tail. 

• Clean the hole so the leash plug fits flush to the deck. 

• Pour in a bit of resin thickened with bamboo dust, place the plug, and patiently drip resin 
around it to fill the gap. 

• Let it cure and sand it flush. 

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Greener Surfboard 

Step 27 — Gloss-coat the board (optional). 

• Paint a thin coat of resin mixed 
with double Additive F, and let it 

• Sand with 320-grit and buff to a 
mirror polish. 

Step 28 — Go surfing! 

This project originally appeared in MAKE Volume 19 . 
Related Posts on Make: Online: 

DIY Epoxy Surfboard -- It Rips! 

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Page 17 of 18 

Greener Surfboard 

Make: Online Kits Archives 

Building a Surfboard from Scratch 

http://blog.makezine.eom/archive/2006/1 1 .. 

This document was last generated on 2012-11-02 03:10:15 PM. 

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